Tourist spots in GCQ areas in Ilocos Region remain closed, says DOT

Calesa parade along Crisologo St., Vigan City, Ilocos Sur (photo by Jasper Allibang Espejo)

ILOCOS SUR — Tourists spots in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) in the Ilocos Region remain closed for the public until further notice as mass gathering is still prohibited to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

With the exception of Pangasinan, other provinces in the Ilocos Region to include La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte were not included in the list of “high-risk” areas and were placed under GCQ starting on May 1.  

Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Ilocos said, “If we decide to open the tourism areas, the fact that we don’t see the enemy, this will be a road to disaster. Ang mangyayari diyan ‘yong efforts na ginagawa natin the last few months, mababalewala.”

Discouragement of unnecessary travel and closure of businesses due to COVID-19 pandemic have made significant impacts on tourism industry, with many tourism destinations shut down indefinitely. 

The DOT said that there is no date yet as to when businesses and attractions will open up again as safety comes first before any recovery of tourism. 

“We are trying to contain the situation, hindi pa tapos ‘yong problema natin. We cannot necessarily move on to the next step such as ‘yong pag-o-open o try to recover right away unless we have the safety guidelines,” Ortega said.  

Meanwhile, Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson bared that the provincial government is drafting a recovery plan for the province to include workers in the tourism sector such as the tour guides. 

Governor Singson also called on the public to visit the various destinations throughout the country to jump-start the tourism industry once measures against COVID-19 have been relaxed and tourism enterprises start operating again.  

“Sana before September ay mabuksan na ang ating tourism industry kahit local muna. Hinihingi ko rin po ang tulong ng ating mga kababayan na we go local para mabuhayan ang ating mga probinsya,” he said during the Laging Handa Network Briefing hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday.  

The Network Briefing airs from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at Radyo Pilipinas from Mondays to Fridays and can be viewed at the Philippine Information Agency’s regional and provincial Facebook pages around the country.

In Vigan City, one of the 7 Wonders Cities of the World, the city government provided a one-time financial assistance worth Php 4000 each to displaced workers, tricycle drivers and kutseros affected by the quarantine. 

Jo-Anne Margarita Gutierrez of the City Tourism Office said that the city government also required business owners to attend the Orientation on Minimum Health Standards for Business Establishments conducted by the City Health Office before they were allowed to open during the GCQ.